A committee of concerned Philadelphians gathered in 1875 with the purpose of creating a permanent art museum in Philadelphia. They petitioned the Centennial Board for use of Memorial Hall as a Museum. Following acceptance of their organization plans, the Corporation of the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Arts received its charter on February 25, 1876.
Initially, the Corporation was managed by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees of twenty-two members (membership numbers have been enlarged several times since 1876). Trustees made up the entire Executive Committee and chaired each of the Standing Committees. The seven original standing committees were those on "Instruction," "Ornamental art," "Mechanical art," "Art library," "Finance," "Building," and "Law." The Committee on Museum Collections became a standing committee in 1882. Corporate officers included a president, two vice presidents, a treasurer, a curator, and a secretary. Through the years, new officers and committees have been added, but the basic structure of the corporate governance has remained consistent.